Thursday, December 27, 2012

Found in notes (12-13-2012)

Fellow martyr—
          lie with me.

Cover the earth with the spread of our corpses;
fall into overturned furrows,
the clean soil and the gravity,
body pressed against the chiseled neatness of lined earth.

Such peaceful sleep. We will come to rest,
hand in hand,
the other wing returned
to level ground.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Lunar Times

Neat! This site from Helmer Aslaksen of the National University of Singapore describes how to calculate the Lunar New Year and other important Chinese holidays, based on the movements of the moon. In Ancient China, there used to be a government body, the Board of Mathematics, to carry out this function, though in the modern age, calendar-making has been privatized. My parents bring back a stack of lunar calendars from Taiwan every year, to distribute to family and friends.

If the goal is preserving tradition in daily life, it seems like it would be extremely useful for a society to have institutions whose sole cause is planning cultural affairs and defining and maintaining customs. That's why an executive ministry to govern cultural issues, with a real commitment to tradition, would be so interesting! (Not to sound monarchist, but an imperial body that claims a centuries-long legacy would potentially have more investment in cultural preservation and the esprit de corps to match).

Then again, in setting dates, the Board of Mathematics did not simply pinpoint occasional, optional celebrations. Lives and livelihoods were in the balance, as farmers relied on the agricultural calendar to time the sowing of crops. It was a genuine public service; the creation of the calendar helped to frame the activities of a whole year. So perhaps this is more like an NBER or an EIA, but with cultural implications.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Such a lovely tragedy,
repeated knife wounds to the heart.
The clean, sharp cuts of a well-honed blade,
metallic and ruthless,
shimmering in the dark.

Precise, proportioned jabs,
each with the force
to separate
              flesh    from     bone
pare the emotions;
such deliberate strokes!

Each cut liberates anew.
Each incision draws out a clean line of blood,
unraveling the tangled wires of emotional attachment.
We will clear this thicket yet!

Each slice, another
Gordian knot unwound,
coming loose,
falling uselessly away.

No need for such bindings any longer.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

There's a story in here somewhere

At the end of the quarter, with exams looming and deadlines imminent, there's always the feeling of "Damn, I could have used that hour. I wish I hadn't wasted all that time last week on --------." It's in those moments that I wish we could bank free time and use the roll-over minutes when we need them. Instead of procrastinating on YouTube, I'd just make a deposit now and jump forward to the next assignment.

However, if we were actually graced with such a beneficent arrangement, it'd probably be a good idea for the Universe to impose a limit on the use of roll-overs per project. Otherwise, you might accidentally use up the precious minutes where you could have saved the Titanic, on a problem set -- and then really regret it

#storyidea #timemanagement

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Invited Inspiration

One of these days, we are going to have the Facebook record of a literary or artistic group, a Generación del 27 or a Ballets Russes perhaps. We will be able to look back and see all the luminaries and balletic lights gathered for a Christmas party, or a hike to the woods, or a holiday dinner. It won't be mythical or poetically imagined, a wooden table under a tree by the dusty road side, oh Andalucía!, but have a name and a place and an address.

Scholars will delight as they comb through the records of our new Lorca's timeline, or discover a 21st-century Diaghilev hosting Nijinsky and asking Lydia Sokolova to bring loose-leaf tea. In 2020, the next Lawrence Ferlinghettii will still reference and publish the next Giinsberg, but readings at Ciity Liights could be traced online. We will have the URL of the next first reading of "Howll" -- what a page! -- and probably the podcast too.

When that day comes, Facebook will not just be a functional intermediary; it will also give us a sense of context and place, becoming both historical artifact and historian, by golly. We will marvel at how Zhimo 志摩 and Shih-qiu 實秋 and Hu Shih 胡適 all gathered together, and the Crescent Moon will be at once mysterious, and lofty, and wonderful, and tangible.